I am what they call a “revert”. I was baptized and raised Catholic, then I fell away from the church around age 15 or 16. I remember thinking as an 8th grader that I would never do drugs or drink underage. Unfortunately, that did not last long into my high school career.
Not only did I eventually came back to the faith, but I gave up everything I was addicted to in one day. This was after three years of trying and failing to quit my addictions. I even went to a rehab for a year AND did a two-week detox stint about a year after and to no avail.
For me to give up my alcohol, drug, and lustful addictions cold turkey is an absolute miracle. Looking back, it’s hard not to be in awe of what God did. First, through the instrument of my parents He brought me to a Catholic college. I was 21 and attempting my third freshman year. I see now God brought me there because He wanted to have a relationship with me. He wanted me to learn about Him, which I ultimately did. He wanted me to learn how to pray to Him, through my classes, in conversations with others, but moreover, God Himself taught me how to pray.
You see, God introduced Himself to me when I was 21.
Now what I am about to share with you might sound a little different, but I am positive that many people have had similar experiences. And I do not share this to elevate myself, as I did not do anything. All the glory goes to God. However, I believe God is going to pour more of Himself out onto His beloved children in this way. I believe that sharing this will help others believe so they may receive what the good Lord wants to give. So do not doubt but believe and receive.
I arrived at this tiny college with the incorrect understanding that prayer was simply asking God for stuff, so I never really did it. However, I began feeling drawn to God. I began to seek Him by being still and sitting with Him and keeping in mind the Lord of the Universe was present.
Then, He filled me up. Completely. I was taken utterly by surprise. I do not even remember why I started going to daily Mass, but I did. I started going to confession and receiving the Eucharist.
What God did for me in the Eucharist was better than any drug I had ever taken. The consolations were so sweet. It was holy inebriation at its finest. I began to crave the Eucharist. God was showing me His power and using it to bring me closer to Him.
After hearing others share their stories of faith and prayer, I started praying the rosary every day. I remember kneeling in the school chapel late at night with a little piece of paper that had instructions on how to pray the rosary, and I knew Mary was there with me. She was right there. I could sense her like you can sense when the guy behind you in the grocery line has no concept of space. Only she brought peace. I tried to never miss the Rosary and I frequented the receiving the Eucharist as often as I could.
However, keep in mind I was in the midst of a battle. I was still very much suffering from my addiction, particularly alcohol. I was already in trouble with the school for my drinking, and at this time and began drinking every day. I was lost, but I knew I needed to go to confession. It was an epic war within me between my desire to be pure in a friendship with God and my desire to be drunk all the time. I went to confession every day for two weeks.
Because I was such a mess, I would go into and leave the confessional with the commitment to never drink again, but something always happen, causing me to fall.
Still, God entered my mess and began the slow work of putting me back together. Even now I think of what God has put back together in the past few years and I am amazed. He is still working!
Sometime after I hit up confession every day for two weeks I was able to give all my addictions up in one day. My first day clean and sober was April 24, 2007.
Returning to school the next year I was on fire.
God continued to draw me to Him and teach me to just spend time with Him. I remember sitting in church and He would fill me with such overwhelming joy. I can’t explain it, but I pray others can experience it so I don’t have to try to!
God is real. And He taught me to just spend time with Him without thinking about Him. He taught me to pray like that, not just to get something from Him, but to have a relationship with Him. This is what it means to pray, to have a friendship with God. Prayer means to spend your life with the Lord growing in wisdom and strength with peace and joy.
How can we do this? We start by being open to Him and whatever He wants for us. Simply desire God and what He wants, that is it. Then, go to Him in the church or in your heart if you cannot make it to a church. You can talk to Him too, unload your heart onto Him, or just honor Him with praise, but make sure there is quiet time with Him as well.
It’s never too late or too early to start. It is always the right time to pray. Simply look toward God in your mind and heart and you have begun.
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